They are generally very ignorant of the first Creation of Man, or from whence they came, for some say they are descended from an old Man who came thither in a Boat, which they call a Canoe; but whether this was before or after the Flood, they can give little or no satisfactory Account. Others (with whom I have frequently conversed on that Head) believe that they are made out of the fine white Mould or Earth, and that the Blacks or Negroes are formed out of the black Dirt and swampy Earth; this was all that I could ever learn from them on that subject. They all believe that the World is round; and that there are two Spirits, the one Good and the other Bad. The Good one they reckon to be the Author and Maker of all Things, and say that it is he that gives them the first Fruits of the Earth, and teaches them to Hunt, Fish, and be wise enough to overcome the Beasts of the Wilderness, and all other Creatures, that they may be assistant unto Man. To which they add, that the Quera, or Good Spirit has been very kind to the Europeans, in teaching them how to make Guns and Amunition, besides a great many other Necessaries that are helpful to Man, all which they say will be delivered to them when the Good Spirit shall think fit: They also believe the Good Spirit does not punish any one in this World or that to come, but that he delights in doing good to Mankind, in giving them plenty of the Fruits of the Earth, instructing them to make many useful Things, and all the Advantages and Pleasures they enjoy. But as for the Bad Spirit (who lives separate from the Good one) they say it is he that torments them with Sickness, Disappointments, Losses, Hunger, Cold, Travel, and all other Misfortunes that are incident to human Life, whom they worship to appease his Wrath. As to what concerns their Treatment in the other World, I shall treat of it hereafter, when I come to make mention of their Notions concerning Heaven and Hell.
Though the Indians are very resolute, and die with a great deal of Courage and Bravery, in the Hands of their Enemies; yet I have known them tremble, and be in the greatest fear and agony imaginable, when they had sentence of Death pronounced against them by the English, for Capital Crimes, whereof they have been sometimes guilty. Whether this Fear was owing to their not being put to death by their common Enemies, or being delivered up to the English by their own Nation, I cannot determine. I am certain they meet with more Favour from the Christians, than they do amongst themselves, who only hang them on Trees for their Offences. These Savages sometimes shew the greatest Reluctance and Concern imaginable to deliver up these Offenders to the Europeans, especially if he was a great Warrior or Hunter amongst them; yet for their own safety they will comply, and put the Offender into their Hands, to be dealt with according to their Laws.
These Kings have been known to make offers to the Christians by way of Exchange for an Innocent Person to die in the room of the Guilty: so fond are they to preserve their own Men if possibly they can; but these being Requests contrary to the Christian Principles, are never granted or complied with.
When a Criminal is hanged, the King with the Relations of the deceased come and pull him by the Hand and say Words to this purpose: Thou wilt never play any moreroguish Tricks in this World, and whether art thou gone now to play thy Tricks. When the Criminal is dead and taken down, they are perfectly easy, and free from all manner of Concern about him, though a few Days before so unwilling to deliver him up; they generally end these Tragedies in Feasting and a fit of Laughter, which puts an end to their Mourning for the loss of their Friend, and never think of the deceas’d more.
Their Burials are different from each other, every Nation having peculiar Methods of their own; some of which I shall here give an account of viz. They raise a Mole of Earth, the Mould whereof they take great pains to make smooth, and is higher or lower according to the Dignity of the Person deceas’d, whose Monument it is, over which there is a Shade or Umbrella, made Ridge-ways, like the Roof of a House, this is supported by nine Stakes or small Posts driven into the Ground, the Grave being about six or eight Feet in length, and near four Feet in breadth, about which they hang Gourds, Feathers, and such like Trophies placed by the dead Man’s Relations, in respect to him in the Grave. The other parts of the Funeral Rights are thus: As soon as the Party is dead, they lay the Corps upon a piece of the Bark of a Tree in the Sun, seasoning or embalming it with a small Root beaten to Powder, which they have in plenty, but will never discover to the Europeans where it grows, it looks as red as Vermillion, which they mix with Bear’s-oil, to beautifie and preserve their Hair. After the Carcase has lain a Day or two in the Sun, they remove and lay it upon Crotches made for that purpose to support it from the Earth; they anoint it all over with the above-mentioned Oyntment made of the Red Root and Bear’s-grease; when this is done, they cover it all over very exactly with the Barks of the Pine, or Cypress Tree, to prevent the Rain falling upon it, and other injuries of the Weather; frequently sweeping the Ground very clean about it. Some of his nearest Relations bring all the Temporal Estate he was possest of at his Death, such as Guns, Bows and Arrows, Beads, Feathers, DeerSkins, Matchcoats, and the like, wherewith they adorn the Grave. The nearest Relation is the principal Mourner, being clad in Moss (that grows upon Trees) after a very odd and strange manner, with a Stick in his Hand, keeping a mournful Ditty for three or four Days, his Face being made as black as a Negroe with the Smoak and Soot of the Pitch Pine, mingled with Bear’s-grease; during this time he tells all the Spectators that approach near him, or pass by, who the deceased was, and what great Feats he performed in his life time, all tending to the Praise of the defunct.
When the Flesh grows Mellow, and cleaves from the Bones, they take it off and burn it, making the Bones very clean, and anoint them with Ointment, wrapping the Scull up very carefully in a Cloth artificially woven of Possum’s Hair or a dressed Deer Skin, which they every Year or oftner, cleanse and anoint with the Red Oyntment, by these Means they preserve them for many Ages; they likewise carry them from place to place as they remove their Dwellings; that it is common to see an Indian in the Possession of the Bones of his Grandfather, Father, or some Relation of longer Antiquity.
They have other sorts of Monuments or Tombs for the dead, as where one was slain, in that very Place they raise a heap of Stones, if any are to be met with in the Place, if not, with Sticks, to his Memory; that every one that passeth by that place augments the Heap in respect of the deceas’d. Some Nations of these Indians have great rejoycing and Feasts at their Burials.
There are other Nations who differ from the former in burying their Dead: When one of them dies, the greater he was in Dignity, the more Expensive is his Funeral, and performed with the greater Ceremony: When a King dies, they bury him with a great deal of Solemnity; (according to their Method) upon his Grave they set the Cup wherein he used to drink out of, about the Grave they stick many Arrows, weep and fast three Days successively without ceasing; all the Kings who were his Friends make the like Mourning, in token of the Love they had for him; they cut off more than the one half of their Hair, the Women as well as the Men: During the space of six Moons (so some Nations reckon their months) there are certain Women appointed which lament the death of the King, crying with a loud Voice three time a Day, viz. Morning, Noon, and in the Evening. All the goods of the King are put into his House, and then they set it on Fire wherein they consume all. They likewise bury the Body of the Priests or Conjurers in their Houses, which they set on Fire with all the Goods.
For it is to be observ’d, notwithstanding these People are so very illiterate and bred after such a Savage manner: Yet they have as great regard and respect for their Kings and great Men, as any People to be met with. When any of these great Men dye, their methods in their Burials are different from the former, for the first thing that is done is to place the nearest Relations nigh the Corps, who Mourn and Weep very much, having their Hair hanging down their Shoulders in a very Forlorn manner. After the dead Person has lain a Day and a Night upon their Hurdles made of Canes, commonly in some out House prepared for that purpose. Those that Officiate about the Funeral go into the Town, and the first young Men they meet with that have Blankets or Match-coats on, which they think fit for their turn, they strip them from their Backs; who suffer them so to do without any manner of resistance; this being common amongst several of their Nations; these they wrap the dead Bodies in, and cover them with two or three Mats, which the Indians make of Rushes, and last of all they have a long Web of woven Reeds or Hollow Canes, which is their Coffin, and is brought round the Corps several times and tyed at both ends, which indeed looks very decent, and well amongst these Savages.
Then the Corps is brought out of the House into their Orchard of Peach Trees, where another Hurdle is made to receive it, about which come all the Relations and Nation that the dead Person belong’d to, besides several other Nations in alliance with them, they all sit down upon Mats on the Ground, spread for that purpose, every one seemingly dejected for the loss of their deceas’d Friend and Countryman, but more especially the Relations.
Things being thus accomodated, their Priests or Conjurers appear, and after having commanded their Attention, and every one is silent, he pauses for some short time, then begins to give an Account who the deceased Person was, how stout a Man he approved himself, how many Enemies and Captives he had kill’d and taken, how strong, tall, and nimble he was, that he was a great Hunter, a lover of his Country, and possessed of a great many beautiful Wives and Children; which is esteemed the greatest of Blessings amongst them, in which they have a very true Notion. Thus this Orator runs on highly extolling the dead Man for his Valour, Conduct, Strength, Riches, good Humour, and even enumerating his Guns, Slaves, and all he was possest of when living. After this he addresses himself to the People of that Town or Nation to whom the deceased belonged, and bids them supply his Place by following his Steps, who he assures them is gone into a Country (which lies a great way off in this World, that the Sun visits in his ordinary Course) where he shall meet with all his Relations and Friends who are gone there before him, that he shall have the enjoyment of handsome Women, great store of Deer to hunt, and never meet with Hunger, Cold or Fatigue, but every thing to answer his Expectation and Desire.
This is the Heaven which they propose to themselves, but on the contrary, for those Indians that are Lazy and Thievish amongst them, bad Hunters, and no Warriors, nor of much use to the Nation, to such they allot in the other World, or the Country that they are to go to, Hunger, Cold, Fatigue, Trouble, old Ugly Women for their Companions, Snakes, and all sorts of Nastiness for them constantly to feed upon; after this manner they describe their Heaven and Hell.
After all this Harangue, he amuses the People with some of their traditions, as when there was a violent hot Summer,or very hard Winter, when any notable distemper rag’d amongst them, when they were at War with such and such Nations, how victorious they were, what were the Names of the War Captains, and many other things of Antiquity; and to prove the times more exactly, he produces the Records of the Country, which are a parcel of Reeds of different lengths, with variety of distinct markes, and Notches, known to none but themselves, (by which they seem to guess very exactly at accidents that happen’d many Years ago, nay two or three Ages or more).
They likewise give an Account that in the Year 1608, there was such a hard Winter in North-Carolina, thatthe great Sound was so Frozen, that the Wild Geese and other Fowl came into the Woods to eat Acorns, that they were so tame (I suppose through want) that they kill’d abundance in the Woods by knocking them on the Head with Sticks, and it is very strange how exactly one Nation will agree with another as to the time when these thing happen’d, having no manner of Records to guide them but these bits of Sticks.
But to returne to the dead Man, when this long Tale is ended by the Conjuror that spoke first; perhaps a second begins another long story, a third, and fourth, if there be so many of these Priests or Doctors present, which all tell partly one and the same thing, at last the Corps is brought away from the Hurdle to the Grave by four young Men, attended by the Relations, the King, old Men and most part of the Nation.
When they come to the Sepulchre which is about six Feet deep, and eight Feet long, having at each end (that is at Head and Feet) a Light-wood or Pitch Pine-fork driven close to the sides of the Grave, firmly into the Ground (these two Forks are to contain a Ridge Pole, as I shall presently describe) before they lay the Corps into the Grave, the bottom is covered two or three times over with the Barks of Trees, then they let down the Corps (with two Belts, that the Indians carry their Burthens with) very leisurely on the said Bark, then they lay overa Pole of the same Wood into the two Forks, having a great many Pieces of Pitch-Pine-logs about two Feet and a half long, they stick down one End of them in the sides of the Grave, and the other End lies on the Ridge-Pole, that they decline like the Roof of a House, being thus placed, they cover them (many double) with Barks of Trees, and throw the Earth thereon that was taken out of the Grave, and beat it down very firm: By this means the dead Body lies as in a Vault, nothing touching it, which I esteem a very decent way amongst them, having seen several Christians buried without the tenth part of that Ceremony and Decency.
As soon as the Flesh begins to cleave from the Bones, they take up the Carcasses and scrape them clean, which they joint in the nature of a Skeleton; afterwards they dress them up in pure white Deer Skins, and deposite them amongst their Kings and Grandees in their Quiogozon, which is their Royal Tomb, or Burial Place of their Kings and War Captains. This is a large and magnificent Cabin amongst them (according to their way or method of Building) raised at the publick Charge of the Nation, and maintained in due form and neatness. About seven Feet high is a Floor or Loft, whereon lye the Bones of all the Princes and Great Men that have died for several hundred Years past, attired in the Dressed Deer Skins, as I have before Remarked. No Person is allowed to have his Bones lie in this Quiogozon or Charnel House, and to be thus dress’d, unless he gives a good Sum of their Money to the Rulers for Admittance.
It is to be observed, that if they remove to any part of the Continent, they seldom fail to carry these Bones along with them, though the tediousness of their short daily Marches keep them never so long on their Journies. They reverence and adore this Quiogozon, with all the Veneration and Respect that is possible for such a People to discharge; they had rather loose all they are possessed of than have any Violence or Injury offered thereto; by this we may see what a Respect they have for their deceas’d Ancestors.
They differ some small matter in their Burials from each other, some burying right upwards, and some otherwise, as I have before intimated; yet for the most part they all agree in their Method of Mourning, which is to appear every Night, or oftner, at the Sepulchre, and weep and howl after a dismal manner, having their Faces daubed over with Light-wood-Soot, and Bear’s-oil, which makes the Face as black as Oil and Lamp-black could do. In this black Figure they remain for a Year or longer, according to the Dignity of the deceas’d.
If the deceas’d Person was a Grandee, such as a King or War Captain, and the like, to carry on the Funeral Ceremonies with greater Formality and Pomp, they hire People to cry and lament over the deceas’d: There are several Persons of both Sexes that practice this for a livelyhood, and are expert at shedding abundance of Tears, and howling like a Parcel of Wolves, or distracted People in Bedlam; by thismeans they discharge their Office with abundance of Art, and great Applause from the Indians. These People regarding those kind of Performances or Ceremonies very respectfully, looking upon them as Rights justly due to the deceas’d.
Their Women are never accompanied with these Pomps or Ceremonies after Death; and to what World they allot that Sex, I could never learn, unless it be to wait on their deceas’d Husbands, or to be metamorphosed into those pretty and ugly Women in the other World or Country where the Indian Men expect to go after death, which I have before made mention of. Yet these Women have more Wit than some of the Eastern Nations (as we are informed) who sacrifice themselves to accompany their Husbands in the other World, which the former never do. It is the deceased Person’s Relations by Blood, as his Sons, Daughters, Brothers, Sisters, Uncles, Cousins, that mourn in earnest; the Wives thinking their Duty discharged, and that they are become free when their Husbands are Dead, all their Care being to look out as fast as they can for another to supply his Place.
Thus I have given the most exact Account of the Indians of Carolina Conjuring over the Sick, stolen Goods, and the Nature and Manner of burying their dead. I shall therefore make a small Degression, to inform my Readers with the manner of our Travelling up to the Charokee Mountains, having already set forth the many and different Observations we made in this spacious Country, and then proceed to the Indian Distempers; some of which I have been Eye-witness to.
The latter end of February, Anno. Dom. 1730, we set out on our intended Journey, being in Number Ten White Men, and Two Indians, who served for our Huntsmen and Interpreters. Having provided a sufficient quantity of Fire-Arms, Amunition, Horses, two Mariners Compasses, Rum, Salt, Pepper, Indian Corn, and other Necessaries, we began our Journey; and after we had past the Christian Plantations, our Accommodations were as follows: All the Day we were diverted with variety of beautiful and strange Objects; in the Evening we encamped an Hour before Sunset, tyed our Horses to Trees near us, which we made the Indians climb up to procure a sufficient quantity of Moss for their Food, and to make Beds for us to lie upon, which was generally under the shade of some large Tree: Our next Business was to send the Indians to Hunt; our Care in the meantime was to make a large Fire of the broken pieces of Timber which we found in plenty lying dispersed up and down the Woods; this we piled up in order to continue burning all Night, which prevented all manner of Wild Beasts and pernicious Insects beingtroublesome, or approaching us or our Horses.
As soon as our Indians had discharged one or two shots, and given us a signal of their Success by Hollowing, we immediately dispatched some of our Party to their assistance, to bring home the Game they had killed; for they seldom return’d without more than a sufficient quantity of Venison, wild Turkies, and other Game for the support of all our Company, during our whole Journey. Being thus provided with Provisions, our next business was to perform our Cookery, which consisted chiefly in Roasting and Broiling, according as each Person was disposed. When Supper was ready, and a sufficient quantity of Indian Corn roasted, which we made use of instead of Bread, we sat down upon the Ground, and generally eat with a good Appetite, the Air being no where better or purer than near the Mountains. In this manner we supped each Night, our Kitchen Furniture being a Wooden Spit, and our Table, Dishes and Trenchers the Barks of Trees. Supper being ended, we made our Punch (the Bowl being a large Gourd) which we distributed equally to each Person a good Harmony being observed amongst us during the whole Journey. At Night when our Company were disposed to rest, we made our Beds of Moss near the fire, where we slept comfortably, keeping a constant Watch by turns every four Hours. Thus we enjoyed ourselves ‘till our arrival at the Mountains, and what continually rendered our Journey more agreeable was the beautiful Prospect of the Country, being adorned with Woods, Savannas, spacious Rivers, together with various kinds of Beasts, Birds, Fishes, &c.
It would not be proper to trouble the Reader with the Adventures of each Day, and the many Observations we made therein, these being sufficiently set forth already: Let it suffice to inform them, that after fifteen Days Journey, we arrived at the foot of the Mountains, having met with no Human Specie all the way. It seems upon our first arival we were discovered by a Party of the Iroquois Indians, who, as I said before, are very powerful, and continually at War, wandering all over the Continent betwixt the two Bays of Mexico and St. Lawrence. As soon as they had discovered us they disappeared, (as we were afterwards informed) and gave Notice thereof to their King, who sent immediately an Ambassador, or one of his Attendants, painted as red as Vermillion, together with a strong Party of his Men, armed with Bows and Arrows.
When they appeared the second time, the Retinue halted at about half a Mile distant from us and the Ambassador attended with one Person, came to the place where we were (which was in a large Savanna) with a green Bough in his Hand, and gave us to understand that he was sent to us by Order of his King, who desired to know whether we came for Peace or War, or what other Business had brought us to those Parts; In such like Speeches he accosted us. We assured him by our Indian Interpreters, that we were come in a friendly manner, with no other Design than a Curiosity of viewing the Mountains. When we had thus satisfied him he sat down with us, and dispatched the other Person that attended him, to acquaint the King with the Reasons of our coming.
During his Absence, we entertained the Ambassador with Punch, and made him a Present of some few Toys, which he accepted of, and was highly pleased therewith. About four Hours after the Messenger returned, whom the Ambassador received at a little distance from us, where they discoursed for some time, and at his return told us, that the Message from the King was, to desire us to make him a Visit, assuring us at the same time of his Friendship. This Message occasioned several Debates to arise amongst us, concerning the consequence that might attend it; we seemed unwilling to go, which he perceiving, assured us in the strongest Terms of our safety, and the Sincerity and Friendship of the King. At length, rather than incur his Displeasure (notwithstanding we were determined to sell our Lives at the dearest rate, if we met with any opposition) we complied, and arrived about six o’Clock at the Indian Town (attended with the Guards that came with the Ambassador, who marched at some distance from us) and were conducted to the State House, where the King was seated with his War Captains and Councellors, who got up and placed us next to him; after we had paid our due acknowledgements to him, and made him some Presents, he then began to enquire the Reasons of our coming thither, and among other things, How his Brother did,meaning the Governor; and many other such like Speeches passed between us. After we had satisfied him in each particular that he demanded, he bid us welcome, shaking Hands with each of us; assuring us of his Friendship, and the great Regard he had for those of our Nation. The few Presents we gave (which were Knives, Glass Beads, Punch, and the like) had made so favourable an Impression in the Breast of his Majesty, and all his Councellors, in our behalf, that the King’s Orders were issued out immediately, strictly charging all his Subjects to treat us in the most friendly manner, and supply us with whatever we had occasion for during our Pleasure to stay amongst them. After all these Speeches were ended, towards Night we were dismissed, and conducted to one of the King’s Houses (being an Apartment prepared for us) where we lay upon Benches, with the Skins of Beasts for our Covering; and this was the best Lodging we met with since our departure from the Christians. They took particular Care of our Horses, and treated us with all the good Nature possibly to be expected from them, supplying us with sufficient quantities of Provision, such as Venison, Wildfowl, Fish, and various Kinds of dried Fruits, Pulse, and Water, no stronger Liquors are to be met with amongst these People.
The King’s Houses are partley in the Center of the Town, the rest of the Buildings being erected in a confused Order, no regular Streets, Shops, or even Handy-craft Trades, are to be met with amongst them.
The news of our arrival brought prodigious Numbers of Men and Women to us, as also Boys and Girls, who were stark Naked; these would come and touch our Cloaths, and view us with admiration, having I am satisfied, never had an opportunity to behold any thing of this Nature before. The King diverted us every Day with Men and Women Dancing, shooting with Bows and Arrows, their Warlik Exercise, and several other kinds of Diversions, wherein he imagined we took any Pleasure. Finding our selves thus in favour with the King, the first request we made was, that we might have leave to see the Quiogozon,or Charnel House, which was the largest of that Nature we had ever beheld: He easily complied with our Request, but with a strict Charge, that we should do no hurt, either to the Bones, or any other thing that we should observe there.
Two Days after our Arrival, we requested the King to have Liberty to depart, in order to view the Mountains, which he seemed very unwilling to comply with, pressing us to continue longer with him, urging many Arguments to persuade us; and that we had not as yet sufficiently refreshed ourselves after our late Fatigue. But we assured him that our Governor had given us strict Orders at our Departure, to be as expeditious as possibly we could in our return home. These Considerations at length moved him to a compliance sooner than he intended. But the chief Reason of our departing so soon was, that if we had remained there much longer, we should be deprived of all our Rum, which was a great support to us in this long and tedious Journey. The King then offered us a Party of his Men to guard us in the Mountains, least we should be molested by any Indians that might be Hunting in them, during our stay there. We most gratefully returned him our due Acknowledgments for his kind offer, and the many Favours he had already conferred upon us, and most humbly beg’d to be excused, which he readily granted us.
Having thus obtained our License of Departure, we made him a Present of a Bottle of Rum, in lieu whereof he gave us Indian Corn, Venison, and some dried Fruits, for our support in the Mountains, where Provisions are scarce. All things being prepared as usual, we set out the next Morning about six o’Clock, continuing our Journey still Westward: The King and his Guards conducted us about half a Mile, wishing us Health, and intreating us at the same time, to make him a Visit at our Return, which we did not, taking a Tour another way.
About the Evening we approached to the top of one of these Mountains, where we refreshed, being all in perfect Health. Here we had the greatest difficulty to be supplied with Moss for Provision for our Horses, but after some time searching, we found what was sufficient for them; then making a great Fire, and our Beds for that Night of the withered Leaves of the Trees, which we gathered for that Purpose. The next Morning very early having refreshed ourselves, we set forward, and in the Evening got on the other side of the first Ridge of Mountains into a most beautiful Valley, adorned with Woods, Savannas, and a very rich Soil, here we encamped this Night, being the longest Days Journey we made from our first setting out, by reason that we were destitute of Water in these barren places, for our selves and Horses, only what we met with by chance in the hollow parts of the Rocks, which our Horses would hardly drink.
The next Morning we set forward with a great deal of Chearfulness, having plenty of Water, and all manner of Provisions. In this Days Journey we discovered an Indian in the solitary parts of the Woods, but as soon as he espyed us, he fled, notwithstanding we made signs to him to come to us, but in vain, for he quickly vanished out of our sight, that we could not learn what Nation he belonged to, or whether there were any more with him in those Parts. After two Days Journey we arrived at another Ridge of rocky Mountains, with large Trees in several Places, but little or no Pasture like the former, but much higher, having a beautiful Prospect of large Woods and Forrests, as far as our sight would permit. From this Mountain we returned, making our Journey Eastward; meeting with nothing worthy of Observation, but what we have already made mention of; and in thirty two Days, to our great Satisfaction, arrived amongst the Christians, our Company being all in perfect Health having had no Misfortune all the way, but the loss of one of our Compasses.
As there are in this Country many poysonous Herbs and Creatures, so the Indian People have excellent Skill in applying effectual Antidotes to them; for Medicinal Herbs are here found in great Plenty, the Woods and Savannas being their Apothecary’s Shops, from whence they fetch Herbs, Leaves, Barks of Trees, with which they make all their Medicines, and perform notable Cures; of which it may not be amiss to give some Instances, because they seem strange, if compared with our Method of curing Distempers. They have a certain Method in poysoning their Arrows, and they will temper them so as to work slow or swift as they please; they can make it so strong, that no Art can save the Person or Beast that is wounded with them, except it be by their Kings and Conjurers, their young Men being ignorant of it.
They use Sweating very much, especially if violent Pains seize the Limbs, or any other part of the Body, which is performed by certain Vegetables which they are well acquainted with; for as soon as they are afflicted with these kind of Disorders, they take Reeds or small Wands and bend them, with these they make little Huts, covering them with Deer Skins, Blankets, or their Matchcoats, and the like; they have other Sweating Houses built in shape like large Ovens; they have Fires made not far from these Sweating Houses, wherein they heat Stones, or (where these are wanting) the Bark of Trees, putting them into these Stones, which occasion an extraordinary Heat, by the help of which, and the Herbs which are boiled in a Pot, they sweat very plentifully. They likewise use Bathing often in the Waters for the like Disorders.
They never miss curing most kinds of Cutaneous Eruptions by the Plants that are produced in this Country: They infallibly cure Scald Heads, which they chiefly perform with Oil of Acorns, but from which Oak I never could be rightly informed, they being very secret in what they know. They cure Burns beyond Credit; I have seen of these Wretches burnt in their Drunkenness after such a miserable manner, that in all Appearance they could not live; yet I have seen them cured in a very short time, contrary to all expectation; that they have been capable of going abroad in ten or twelve Days. I have known others to be miserably burnt with Gun Powder, which they have cured in a short time; but by what Ingredients they perform these speedy and wonderful Cures is known to none but themselves. They seldom or never make known any Secrets of this Nature to the Europeans, but are very ready to serve them upon such Occasions, if required, for a small Gratuity.
What is worthy of Observation is, that amongst all these Indians there are no running inveterate Ulcers to be met with, neither do their Wounds turn to a Gangrene, and they are very expert in healing all manner of green Wounds and Dislocations, which they perform so speedily, that I dare boldly say, that they are the greatest Artists in these kind of Performances of any People in the known World.
There was a Planter in North Carolina who had a grievous Ulcer in his Leg for many Years, which was deemed incurable by all those that beheld it; and many attempts were made by the best Christian Artists in that Country to perfect the Cure, but all to no purpose, for his Leg still grew worse and worse; at last he was prevailed upon to apply himself to one of those Indian Doctors, who performed the Cure in a very short time for the value of three Shillings Sterling, though it had cost him above one hundred Pounds before to little or no Purpose.
The Indian Doctor performed this Cure after the following manner; first he made a strong Decoction of the Bark of the Root of Sassafras, in which he bathed the Patients Leg very well, then he took the rotten Grains of the Maiz, or Indian Corn, well dried and beaten to Powder, and the soft Down that grows upon the Turkeys Rump, with this he quickly dried up the filthy Ulcer, and made a perfect Cure, of what was thought incurable, to the great Joy and satisfaction of the Planter, who had so long laboured under it. This I had affirmed to me by the Planter himself, and several others that were Eye-witnesses to the whole Affair.
The Pox is to be met with amongst some Nations of these Indians, being as it is Reported communicated to them by the Europeans, it being a Distemper intirely unknown to them before their Arrival. By this Disorder, some of them have lost their Noses, and particularly one of their greatest Conjurers, whom I have seen and conversed with; but whether or no this Distemper was known to them before the Christians came amongst them, I will not take upon me to decide it, being in no way material to my present Design, which is only to satisfie my Readers with the Advantages and Disadvantages that are to be met with in this Spacious part of the World.
These Savages of late cure this Distemper with certain Berries (that grow in this Province) which Salivate like Mercury, notwithstanding they use Sweating and strong Decoctions with it, as they do almost upon every Occasion, and when they are in the greatest Extreamity of Heat, leap into the Rivers or Ponds of Water, by which Practice many have lost their Lives, yet at present it is not sufficient to deter them from this kind of Practice.
The Yaws, isa Venerial Disorder (as I said before) in all respects like the Pox, only it is not attended with a Gonorrhæa in the beginning, but having all the other Symptoms that attend that Disorder, such as Cutaneous Eruptions, Nocturnal Pains, &c.This Distemper of late has been communicated to the Indians by the Christian Traders, and though it is not very common amongst them, yet some few have lost their Noses by it, and others are become most miserable Spectacles by neglecting it’s Cure; at last they make a shift to cure or patch themselves up, and live for many Years after; such Men commonly turn Doctors amongst them, and some of these No-Nose Doctors are in very great Esteem amongst them. The Juice of the Tulip Tree is used by the Indians as a proper Remedy for this Distemper.
The Small Pox proved very fatal amongst them in the late War with the Christians,few or none ever escaping Death that were seized with it. This Distemper was intirely unknown to them before the arrival of the Europeans amongst them. Their Method in this, as in all other Fevers, is to run directly into the Water in the extremity of the Disease, which strikes it in and kills most that use that Method.
They use Scarification in most Distempers; their chief Instruments are the Teeth of the Rattle-Snake, which they poyson with upon occasion. They take out the Teeth of the Snake, and suck out the Venome with their Mouth, which they spit on the Ground, and receive no damage thereby; it is of a greenish Colour, as I have frequently observed. These Teeth they keep for the uses above-mentioned, having no Notion of Lancets, or other Instrument proper in those Operations.
The Spleen is a common Distemper with the Indians in this Province, which they cure by burning on the Belly with a Reed or Hollow Cane, after the following manner: They take the Cane and put the End into the Fire where they burn it ‘till it is red hot, then they lay the Patient on his Back, and place a piece of thin Leather on his Belly, between the Pit of the Stomach and the Navel, so press the hot Reed on the Leather, which burns the Patient to that degree, that they ever after have the Impression of the Reed wherever it was laid: This Method is sometimes used amongst them for the Belly Ach.
The Plague was never known amongst the Indians that I could ever learn; yet the Small Pox, their continual Wars with each other, their poysoning, and several other Distempers and Methods amongst them, and particularly their drinking Rum to excess, have made such great destruction amongst them, that I am well informed, that there is not the tenth Indian in number, to what there was sixty Years ago.
They have a kind of Rheumatism, which generally afflicts their Legs with grievous Pains, and violent Heats; whilst they are thus tortured, they employ the young People continually to power cold Water upon the part aggrived, ‘till such time as the Pains are abated, and they become perfectly easy, using no other Method for this kind of Disorder.
They are never troubled with the Scurvy, neither are they afflicted with the Dropsy, Diabetes, Gout, Stone, Pthisick, Consumption, Asthma, or Palsie, which Distempers are too well known amongst us, and frequently attended with most fatal Consequences. Neither is the Struma to be met with amongst them, and many other European Distempers too tedious to name.
They have several Remedies which they use for the Tooth-ach, which frequently carries off the Pain; but if all their Endeavours should fail, they have recourse to punching out the Tooth, which is done with a small Cane placed against it, on a bit of Leather, then they strike the Reed and push out the Tooth, this they perform with a great deal of Dexterity, and never endanger the Jaw, which other Instruments are apt to do.
They seldom make use of Amputation, except it be to the Captives that they take in War, when they cut off the Feet, which I have mentioned in another Place. But in any immoderate defluctions of Blood, or any other Humour from any part of the Body, they are never at a loss for a speedy Cure.
I never observed any of them to practice Anatomy, neither do I believe that they have any Knowledge therein, unless as I observed before, that they make Skelitons of their Kings and great Men’s Bones. They can colour the Hair Black, though of a Reddish Colour, or any other Colour, which they do with a certain Seed or a Plant that grows in their Plantations. They make use of no Minerals in Physick, and very little of Animals, but chiefly depend on Vegetables, for all Disorders amongst them. They are well acquainted with the Spontaneous Plants that are produced in these Parts of the World; and a Flux of Blood seldom or never follows any of their Operations.
They are scarce ever known to make use of any Gums or Rosins in their Physick; as for Catharticks and Emeticks, so much in fashion in Europe, they do not esteem or make use of, unless it be immoderate Drinking such vast quantities of their Yaupan Tea, and vomiting it up again, this they continue every Morning, or oftner, where they can have this Plant, from which they receive great Benefit, not only in discharging and cleansing the Stomach from the peccant Humours there lodged, but likewise by its great Diuretick quality which carries off those Humours by the Ureters, that might be prejudicial to their Health, and occasion Fevers, Agues,and many other Distempers, which they are not so subject to as the Europeans; which I am satisfied is owing in a great measure to their constant use of this Plant, which takes away both Hunger and Thirst for four and twenty Hours.
There is no Plant in these Parts in greater Veneration and Esteem amongst them than this is, and they frequently carry it to the Westward Indians, who give Deer Skins, and other Necessaries they want for it. They take the Leaves and small Twigs, bruise them in Wooden Mortars, ‘till they become of a blackish Colour, and wholly defaced: Then they take and put them into Earthen Pots, over the Fire, till they Smoak, stirring them all the time ‘till they are cured: Others take them thus bruised, and put them into Earthen Bowls, under which they put live Coals and cover them with Youpan Leaves, ’till they have done Smoaking, often turning them over, then they spread them on Mats and dry them in the Sun or Shade for use.
They commonly in most of their Disorders make use of the Juices of Plants, not out of any Foppery or Fashion, as many Europeans and other Nations are often fond of, but purely to relieve and free Nature of the Oppression and Burthen that she labours under.
They neither use Unguents or Fats in any external Application for Wounds or Ulcers, but they sometimes use the Fat of Animals to render their Limbs more pliable, and when they are weary to relieve the Joints.
The Bark of the Root of the Sassafrass Tree is very much used by them, which they generally Torrefy in the Embers, and strip off the Bark from the Root, beating it into a Paste, or a Consistance fit to spread, so apply it to the grieved parts, which not only cleanses a fowl Ulcer, but after Scarification, being applied to the Contusion or Swelling, carries off the Pain, and asswages the Tumor. Yet these People in general are very careless and negligent of their Health.
In some Places these Savages Boyl and Roast their Meat extraordinary well, and eat abundance of Broath except those Savages whom we call the Naked Indians, who never make use of any Soup. These travel from the Banks of the Messisippi to War against the Sinagars or Iroquois Indians, and are commonly too hard for them except they are over power’d by unequal Numbers. These naked Indians will lye and sleep in the Woods without any Fire or covering, being inur’d thereto from their Infancy. They are the most hardy of all Indians that are known, and run so fast that they are never taken by any other Indians that pursue them. Their Enemies say that their Nimbleness and long Wind proceeds from their never making use of any Broath.
The Salts that the Indians in these parts make use of in their Meat, Bread, and Soup, to give them a grateful relish are Alkalies, viz, Ashes made of the Wood of Hickery and calcin’d Bones of Deers and other Animals. They never eat any Sallads, and as for Pepper, and Mustard, they imagine us to be no better than Madmen to make use of them at our Victuals.
The Vessels that our Neighbouring Indians make use of and most other Nations are, Earthen-Pots of several sizes. Their Dishes and Wooden Platters are made of the sweet Gum Tree, Poplar, Sycomore, and the like.
Thus I have releated their manner in curing several Distempers; I shall now only mention one strange Account more, which was attested by the Planter himself, and several other credible Persons in those Parts.
There was an honest and substantial Planter in those Parts who was afflicted with a strange and lingering distemper, not usual amongst the Christians, under which he emaciated and grew every Month worse and worse; this Disorder continued for some Years, during which time he had made use of the best and ablest Doctors and Surgeons in those parts, but all to no purpose, for the Disorder still persever’d. In the beginning of this Distemper the Patient was very wealthy, and had several Slaves which he was obliged to sell to satisfie the Doctors. But one Day it happen’d, as he and his Wife were comiserating his miserable Condition, and that in all appearance he could not expect to recover, and that Death must speedily put a period to his Days, and then in what misery he should leave his poor Wife and Family, since all his Negroes were already gone and dispos’d off. Whilst he and his Wife were thus debating the Misfortunes that in all probability might attend the Family after his Death. An Indian happen’d to come into the House, who was well acquainted in the Family, and hearing their Discourse (and having a very great regard and value for the Sick-man from whom he received many Favours) made this Reply to what he had heard them talk off, Brother, you have had a long fit of sickness, you have given away your Slaves to the English Doctors, what made you do so, and now become Poor? They do not know how to cure you, for it is an Indian Distemper that troubles you, and they know not the Nature of it. If it had been a Distemper known in their Country, probably they cou’d have cured you. But had you employ’d me at first, I coud have cur’d you for a small matter without taking your Slaves from you that provided Corn and other Necessaries for you, and your Family’s support. And yet if you will give me a Blanket to keep me warm and some Powder and Shot, to kill Deer with, I will do my best still to recover your Health.
The Poor-man being very much dejected with the Misfortunes that he had already met with, made the Indian this reply. I know my Distemper is now past the power of Man to cure, and if our English Doctor’s cou’d not cure it, I am throughly perswaded that the Indians cannot.
But his Wife accosted him in the most endearing and mild terms and told him, he did not know but God might be pleas’d to give a greater blessing to the Indians undertaking than he had done to the English, and likewise said, if it shou’d please God that you shou’d dye, I cannot be much more miserable by giving that small trifle to the Indian which he demands. Therefore I beg of you to take my advice and try him.
At length by the many perswasions and Importunities of his Wife and Family he consented. And when the bargain was concluded, the Indian went into the Woods and brought with him several kinds of Roots and Herbs, whereof he made a strong Decoction and gave it to the Patient to drink, and immediately orderd him to go to Bed, adding that it would not be long before he wou’d return again to visit him. The Patient punctually perform’d every thing as he was ordered by the Indian, and had not been long in Bed before the Potion that was administer’d made him Sweat after the most violent manner that could be, and during its operation he smell’d so offensively to himself and all those that were near him, that scarce any one cou’d bear to go into the House or Room where he lay.
Late in the Evening the Indian comes to visit the Patient with a great Rattle-Snake alive (which terrified the Family almost out of their Senses) and told the Sick-man that he must take it to Bed with him, at which the Patient was in the greatest consternation in the World, and told the 1ndian that he might as well dye of the Distemper he had, as to be kill’d with the Bite of the Rattle-Snake. To which the Indian reply’d he cou’d not bite him nor do him any harm, for he had already taken our his Poyson and Teeth, and shewed him by opening and putting his Finger into the Snakes Mouth, that they all were gone. At last by many perswasions and Intreaties of all that were present, he admitted of the Snakes company, which the Indian put about the Patients middle and order’d no Body to take it away, or even to meddle with it upon any account, which was strictly observ’d, altho’ the Snake girded him as hard for a great while as if he had been drawn in by a Belt. At last he found the pressure grow weaker and weaker, till by degrees he felt it not; and opening the Bed the Snake was found dead, and the Patient thought himself grown much better. The Indian returned the next Morning to visit his Patient, and finding the Snake dead, was very much transported, and told the Sick-man the distemper was dead along with the Snake, which proved as he said, for the Man very speedily afterwards recover’d his Health, and became perfect well, and lived for many years after this strange and wonderful Cure.
And what is remarkable in many parts of this Province as you travel up towards the Mountains and through the Woods, when ever you come to any places where the Indians formerly dwelt and had Towns, you shall find abundance of Flowers with variety of beautiful Colours, of several sorts, and divers Qualities, and Use; some being Physical others Poysonous, others for Ornament and sweet Odor, which at a distance have a fine prospect, and look like a beautiful Flower Garden, the uses whereof the Indians are well acquainted with. I am perswaded that the reason why they took all these pains in planting these Simples was owing to their Doctor’s Care, that upon all Occasions they might be provided with those Vegetables that were proper for the Indian Distempers, or any other use they might have occasion to make of them.
These Savages have one of the most diabolical Customs amongst them, that is to be met with in any part of the known World, which they call Husquenawing their young Men and Girls. Once a Year, or at farthest, once in two years, these Savages take up so many of them as they think are able to undergo this rigid Discipline, and Husquenaugh them, which they say is make them obedient and respective to their Superours and inures them to all manner of Fatigues and Hardships, and without it they never wou’d be fit to be their War-Captains, or Capable to act in their Councils; by this Method they say their Children have the same benefit as the European Children have at their Schools, where they are taught good breeding and Letters. Besides it carries off those Weak and Infirm Bodies that wou’d have been a Burthen and disgrace to their Nation.
This House of Correction, or where they undergo this rigid Discipline, is a large strong Cabin, made on purpose for the reception of these young Men and Girles that have not already pass’d these Graduations. The Season of the Year wherein they Husquenaugh their youth is always about Christmas, at this time they are brought into this House, which is made as dark as any Dungeon, and almost starved during the time they remain there. Besides they give them Pellitory, and several intoxicating Plants that make them go raving Mad, they make the most dismal and hidious cries and howlings that human Creatures are capable of expressing, all which continues about five or six Weeks, and the little Meat they are allowed to eat is the nastiest loathsome stuff imaginable. After the time is expired they are brought out of the Cabin,which is not in the Town, but at some distance from it, and is guarded by an Indian or two, nominated for that purpose, who Watch by turns. When they appear or first come abroad, they are as poor and Meager as it is possible for any Creatures to be, resembling rather Skeletons than living Men; several of them dying under this Diabolical discipline. Moreover they either really are or pretend to be Dumb, and do not spake for a Month after they are out of their Confinement. It is likewise said that after this Discipline is over, they have intirely forgot all the Actions of their past Lives.
These Savages are described in their proper Colours but by very few, for those that generally write Histories of this New World are such as Interest, Preferment, or Merchandize draw thither, who know no more of the People or Country, than I do of the Laplanders. If we will make just Remarks, how near such Relations approach Truth, we shall find few worthy of Entertainment, and many parts of their Works stuft with Invectives against the Government they liv’d under, on which Stage is commonly acted greater Barbarities in murdering worthy Men’s Reputations, than all the Savages of the New World are capable of equalizing, or even imitating. These Authors likewise pretend to various and strange accounts, about them, but their Relations seem much fitter to fill a Novel than a History. I must therefore beg leave of the Gay Part of the World, who seem infinitely pleased with such Relations in not gratifying them with the Particulars, which they themselves will give less Credit to every Day as their Judgment ripens.
Lastly, I shall mention some few Words of the Indian Language, together with the English, and so conclude this Treatise.
To enlarge any more upon this Indian Jargon, would be altogether needless, and troublesome to the Reader; they have such a strange way of abbreviating their Speech when they are Debating in their grand Councils, that the young Men do not understand what they say or treat of. It is to be admir’d, what hath occasioned so many different Speeches as they have; for the three Nations whose Languages I have now mentioned, are but a small distance from each other. These Differences in their Speech frequently occasion Jealousies and Fears amongst them, and are often the Motives of their continual Wars with each other; and were it not for these continual Feuds and Animosities amongst themselves, they would be as happy a People, as to this Life, as any upon the Earth.
*Willow-Oak is a kind of Water-Oak, so call’d from its Leaves, which very much resemble those of the Willow. It grows in low Grounds and ponds of Water, and is used for Fire, Fences, &c.